UN Experts Condemn Arbitrary Detention and Harassment of Uzbek Minority Rights Defender

UN experts have expressed grave concern over the arbitrary detention of Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, a prominent Uzbek human and minority rights defender, stating that he is facing harassment and inhumane treatment in prison.

“During his detention, authorities subjected Mr. Dauletmurat Tajimuratov to threats and physical assault,” the experts said.

The experts revealed that Tajimuratov was violently arrested in July 2022 during a crackdown on a peaceful protest in Nukus. The protest, organized by Tajimuratov and others, aimed to defend Karakalpakstan’s autonomous status as an independent republic and protect the rights of the Karakalpak minority in Uzbekistan. Law enforcement reportedly used water cannons, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas to disperse the participants.

“The human rights defender has been subjected to physical and psychological harassment by the detention officers in the pre-trial detention center No. 11 in Urgench,” they said. “His head was forcibly shaved, and prison officers forced other detainees to intimidate and harass him. His condition in prison is of grave concern,” they said.

Tajimuratov was charged on 31 January 2023 and subsequently sentenced to 16 years in prison on various charges, including “conspiracy to seize power or overthrow the constitutional order,” “legalization of the proceeds of criminal activity,” “organization of mass riots accompanied by violence,” and “preparation and dissemination of materials threatening public security and order.” 

“States have an obligation to refrain from arbitrary arrest or detention, guarantee freedom of expression and association, and ensure the dignity of detainees as human beings without discrimination,” the experts said.

The Special Rapporteurs reached out to the Uzbek Government regarding the case in August 2023 but have not received a response to date.

The full statement is available on the website of the OHCHR.